Tuesday, March 24, 2015
This past weekend Jill and I went up to Inverness to run Kip Koelsch and Endeavor Racing, LLC’s Citrus Trail Dare Greatly Team Challenge. I mailed a check about 6 months ago entering the team challenge without even having a team together. I thought I was going to be doing the 50k while Jill did either the 4M or 10M and we would fill in the other two later. It’s a good thing that our awesome friends Sean Connolly and Tracy Connolly wanted to be part of team Swinger Society because my feet have taken a beating since running 100k at Wildcat in January. I opted for the 10M and Jill was all about doing “just” 4M. She hasn’t run much but this would good training for the Fools 25k in 2 weeks. This is also my first race as a Tailwind Trailblazer so I am very excited to write this race report. I will be getting back up to running ultras in Tailwind gear before long. So the team roster was set back in December as follows: Sean-50k Tracy-Marathon Justin-10M Jill-4M Sean and Tracy are great people and great runners. We love weekend race outings with them. We headed up to St Pete on Friday after work and met up with the Connollys along with Andy Mathews and the soon to be Amy Mathews to hit up a new Mexican place, El Gallo something…I don’t need to remember the name because we won’t be going back there, the food was just ok. Andy and Amy peeled off and we hit St Pete Brewing Company and then Flying Pig for a quick drink at each before heading back to the Connollys. Saturday was the perfect relaxing day. We finally made our way to lunch at The Hangar and ate out on the balcony as they were setting up for the Grand Prix of St. Pete going on this week. Then we just lounged around the house, watched the first season of Wilfred, played a little Cards Against Humanity and mixed up our bags and bottles of Tailwind Nutrition. On a trip up to St. Pete a while back, I left the bottom of a bag of Tailwind for Sean and Tracy to try and they loved it. They quickly started ordering it for themselves and our team consisted of 4 Tailwind fanatics! Sean used his culinary expertise to whip up a baked pasta dish with breaded chicken, focaccia bread and Caesar salad. It was early to bed for our 3:45am alarm before the alleged 2 hour drive up to the race. That alarm went off quickly but I think we were all well rested and ready to run. I even had to time to check the 12 brackets that I am managing for my work March Madness pool on the games I missed. We hit the road by 4:30 and it did not take 2 hours to get there. We were the first runners to pull in the parking lot. Got our bibs and relaxed in the car for a while before Sean was to start at 7:15 and Tracy at 7:30. We got them off and then I had to get ready for my 8am start. Just had to put 2Toms on my feet and in that “other” region, my only two chafing/hot spot areas. Injinjis as always and Hoka Mafate for shoes. Waterproof Band-Aids on the nips and I was ready to go, no music, no Nike Running App either. I started and stopped the app real quick and would go back later and change the time and distance for record keeping. Just me and 150 calories of Tailwind in a handheld. My goal was an even 10 minute miles, 1:40. The 10 mile course consisted of a 1 mile trail out to a large lollipop loop with a short out and back not too far into the loop and then returning to the finish on the same 1 mile return trail. Jill would have to wait until 9am to start. She later told me that she went back to the car and slept most of that hour. My race started off pretty uneventfully, nothing exciting. I worked myself into a position that seemed pretty comfortable, right behind Michael Costa and a young man, a very young man, about 8 years old and 3 feet tall. Then we hit the first hill. It was a long slow climb and I figured it was early, I should run it. That hill crested and then then there was another hill. I was already feeling the hills. By the time we got to Andy Mathews at the first Aid Station, only 1.5 miles in, I was fatigued and my lower back was not happy with me. New plan, walk the hills! As we started on the little out and back section, we got to see some of the 50k runners, teammate Sean and also Lara Costa. Michael had stopped at the Aid Station so he ended up behind me and I was always wondering when he was going to pass me back but he never did. Instead I spent the next couple of miles running behind the 8 year old. He was running so well, and when I passed him around mile 4 I really felt that I was making a poor decision to pass him. I actually felt pretty good from mile 4 to 8 or so. I was power walking up the hills and immediately going back into a run at the top. I swear there was only one downhill in the entire course. And I used it the best I could. I just seemed like we were always going up. We came into the 2nd Aid Station at Mile 6 and I topped my bottle off with water, thanked the 2 volunteers and took off. To woman I came into the Aid Station told me it was mile 6, other than that I would not have known what mile I was at. I really buckled down and was moving well, hiking the hills and cruising the flats and minor downs. Then around mile 7, while walking uphill, at what I thought was a decent pace, my poor decision came back to kick me. That little guy went zipping right by me, up the hill, like I wasn’t even moving. I kept him in sight for a while but I realized that I wasn’t going to catch him. He ran an amazing race and a lot of people were very impressed with his performance at such a young age. I noticed Lara up in front of me but she was moving better than me on the hills so I was only gaining ground on her on the flat. It took I while but I caught her and we chatting for a bit. She was running a very smart race. She looked good, not exerting too much energy, just running comfortably. Then I saw Phil Nissen up ahead and I was excited to check in with him and provide a few encouraging words as he was running the Marathon. Phil is the ultimate trail junkie, having retired down to Lehigh so that he can run trails every day of the week. I’m very jealous, but happy to have him as a friend. Then I came up to the final turn and someone came up behind me with a greeting. I told him that I thought we were on the last hill because I thought I remembered it being mostly up on this section coming out. We hit the top of that “last” hill, exchanged well wishes and I took off for the final mile, determined to gut it to the finish. I was digging deep….until I hit the actual final hill. I struggled to get up it, but I forced myself to run it. And then I could get on to the finish. There was no kick, not epic push, just cruising on into the chute. The awesome volunteers gave me a finisher’s medal and a team challenge finishers pin. Sue Edwards had been helping out at packet pickup and doing whatever was needed around the Finish Line and she was the first person I saw after finishing so I asked her what time it was…8:37am. That means I got my goal by 3 minutes, 1:37. I actually felt pretty good. I had to work pretty hard during the race but it didn’t beat me up too much. My feet weren’t too bad either so I was happy. I hung around greeting other finishers, including awesome RD Dawn Lisenby and 4M winner, and it wasn’t long before Jill came in with a 50 minute finish in the 4M. She looked great and said that she had no issues during the race. I was happy for her. We went to the car to change shoes and I had to get out of my soaking wet shirt. It was still cool but the humidity must have been 99% because I noticed how heavy my shirt was back around mile 8. I just got a Bondi Band from the awesome people at Tick Tock Ultra and that was awesome! I am usually a visor person but I wanted to this new headband out. Between the headband and my Boston Bill sunglasses, I didn’t have any issues with sweat in my eyes. But it was soaked and also crystalized in sweat. So we got into comfortable sandals, got our chairs and cooler and headed over to the finish line to become spectators of marathon and ultra-running. Sue made us some bagels and we proceeded to replenish lost calories and hops. The rest of the day consisted of cheering friends and other runners in and toasting to everyone’s accomplishment. Sean came in at 5:07 for the 50k win and Tracy was right behind him (factoring in the later start) in 5:04 for the Marathon. With our entire team done, relaxing and rehydrating, we had to wait for the team times to be calculated. There were 2 Men’s Teams and 2 Coed Teams. One of the Men’s Teams destroyed everyone else by over an hour, and that included the girl took 2nd overall in the Marathon. They weren’t a concern to us though, but the GNATS were. They beat us by 13 minutes to win the Coed Team division, giving up 2nd place. We received a 2nd place pin for our accomplishment. Overall, it was a great day. This was my first time running one of Kip’s races and I will definitely do another. I am signed up for the Best Damn Marathon Cape Coral on December and I am considering doing his Hillsborough River Marathon the day before to make it my first Double Marathon Weekend. The volunteers were awesome. There was some panic the week leading up to race, and as a Race Director, I understand his concerns but he had a quality crew of volunteers. The course was marked perfectly. All of the signs and arrows directed runners in the four different races onto the trails they were supposed to take. Of the few people that did get off course, they all said that it was their own fault, they just weren’t paying attention. Amazing event Kip, thank you for doing what you do in this awesome trail/ultra community in Florida.